How to become a SITES AP [Step-by-Step Instructions]
This page contains all of the information and resources you need to pass your SITES AP exam on the first try! The hardest part to doing anything is always making your mind up that you want to do it. Once you’ve made up your mind, doing it is the easy part. This is also true about earning the SITES AP credential. Once you’ve decided you want to be among one of the first professionals to earn the SITES Accredited Professional designation, studying for and passing the test isn’t too bad. With as little as 8 hours of studying (or a recommended 14-30 hours of studying) you’ll be ready to pass.
Who can become a SITES AP?
Unlike the LEED AP credentials, there is no prerequisite to becoming a SITES AP, but it is recommended that you have project experience. The only requirement is that you are at least 18 years of age.
STEP 1 – REGISTER FOR YOUR EXAM
The first step is to register for your exam so that you have a test day (and time) picked out to serve as extra motivation to study. It really helps, and there’s a good chance you’ll get too busy to actually take your exam if you don’t go ahead and register for your exam. Pick a time of day that your brain works best. For most people that is in the morning.
First, go to www.sustainablesites.org/sites-ap and click “register for the exam”.
Secondly, create a free account and pay for your exam. Prices vary by location, but you get a sizable discount on the exam if you are a USGBC member, ASLA member, LEED Green Associate, LEED AP, or WELL AP (so be sure to note that in your account profile when you are creating your account, if applicable, and it will automatically discount your registration fee).
Current exam pricing in the United States is as follows:
Third, use the code you get when you pay for your exam and go to www.prometric.com Finally, choose a day and time to take your exam. We recommend picking a date about 3-8 weeks out to allow you enough time to study, but not too much to allow something come up and distract you from the prize at the end of the road.
STEP 2 – GATHER YOUR STUDY MATERIALS
First, start with our free resources. Just click the images to download them instantly (for free):
Or, you can click on the links below:
Candidate Handbook – This is a guide to signing up for the exam and contains info about what material to study and where the questions come from.
SITES v2 Rating System – The current SITES AP exam tests over the SITES v2 Rating System, and most of your question will come from this resource.
SITES v2 Scorecard (AKA Checklist) – This is a summary of the SITES Prerequisites, Credits, and their respective points. This is very helpful for studying and even more helpful for projects.
CMP Guide – a guide to maintaining your credential after you earn it.
Synergies Between Sites & LEED – a few questions may come from here, but this document is more helpful for projects than the exam.
Synergies (SITES & LEED ND) – a few questions may come from here, but this document is more helpful for projects than the exam.
Secondly, get our Flash Cards and Practice Tests. We’ve got 200 of each, and these are worth their weight in gold. Okay, they are digital so they don’t weigh anything (and no trees were harmed in their production), but they are super valuable because they give you a good understanding of what and how to study as well as a gauge of when you’re ready to pass. Currently, we are offering these study materials exclusively through our Unlimited Exam Prep Membership which gives you full access to both the 200 Practice Test questions and 200 Flash Cards for 12 months.
Finally, you may also want to check out the Sustainable Site Initiative’s free and paid resources also. You can pass without these resources if you are on a budget or want to save time, but we want you to be aware of them. The Sustainable SITES Initiative has a more extensive SITES Reference Guide (than the free one above) for $219 which is recommended if you are someone that needs to dot all their i’s and cross all their t’s. Our estimate (and this is a rough estimate) is that 90-95% of the questions are covered in the free rating system (linked above), whereas, the candidate handbook tells us that 100% are covered by the full $219 SITES Reference Guide.
To save you valuable time, we recommend that you just supplement the free rating system with our Practice Tests because it is a much quicker, easier, and funner way earn this credential. One last note here, if you plan on managing SITES projects after you become a SITES AP, then you might as well get the full Reference Guide because you’ll get good use out of it.
STEP 3 – KNOW WHAT TO STUDY
The Candidate Handbook (read pages 10-16) and our SITES AP Practice Tests are most helpful for determining what to study. The candidate handbook tells you what concepts are tested over and how many questions come from that knowledge domain. Our practice tests were made following the candidate handbook in combination with taking the actual exam.
#1 SITES AP STUDY TOOLS (PRACTICE TESTS AND FLASH CARDS):
Per the candidate handbook, the exam assesses candidates’ abilities at three cognitive levels:
Recall, Application, and Analysis
• Recall Questions: These questions assess a candidate’s ability to recall factual material that is presented in a similar context to the exam references.
• Application Questions: These questions provide the candidate with a novel problem or scenario that the candidate can solve using familiar principles or procedures described in the exam references.
• Analysis Questions: These questions assess a candidate’s ability to break the problem down into its components to create a solution. The candidate must not only recognize the different elements of the problem, but must also evaluate the relationship or interactions of these elements.
The SITES AP exam contains 100 randomly delivered multiple choice questions and must be completed in 2 hours.
The exam has both scored and unscored questions (85 scored and 15 unscored questions). All questions are delivered randomly throughout the exam and candidates are not informed of a question’s status, so candidates should respond to all the questions on the exam. Unscored questions are used to gather performance data to inform whether the question should be scored on future exams.
TWO MOST IMPORTANT STUDY TOOLS (ESSENTIAL TOOLS YOU NEED TO PASS):
STEP 4 – READ THESE STUDY TIPS
• Do a “brain dump” before you start your 2-hour exam. When you get settled into Prometric computer lab you have 10 minutes to familiarize yourself with the testing controls before you begin your 2-hour exam. You also get scrap paper and a pen. Take a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the testing controls, and then use the remaining 10 minutes to do a brain dump of numbers, ASHRAE standards, acronyms, credit thresholds, or whatever you are worried about getting confused on during your exam. Doing a brain dump helps give you confidence going into your exam and more importantly it helps you not second guess yourself on the items you were able to write down prior to starting.
• During your exam, take advantage of the ability to highlight valuable information in questions (in combination with flagging the question) to easily reference back to this information and help you get other questions right. Also, use the strike-through functionality (right click) to visually eliminate incorrect answers.
• Always choose the BEST Answer. All the questions are multiple-choice (A, B, C, or D) with usually two answers that are clearly wrong and two that might even both be “right”. Always choose the “best” answer. It can be helpful to read the questions twice, and always read all the answers.
• Only mark questions that you want to skip or highlight information on, and only come back to marked questions. Don’t review all the questions at the end of your exam because you’ll change answers that are right. Your gut instinct (intuition) is usually right because it’s using your subconscious mind to tell your gut which one is the right answer.
• When studying the SITES v2 Rating System, don’t skip over the recommended strategies and other text that you may think is insignificant. They will ask a handful (or more) questions about the “fine print” and recommended strategies; so, read the Rating System in it’s entirety at least once. Here’s an example. There was a question along the lines of: Major native plant community types of the ecoregion are based on what U.S. EPA equivalent? …and you would had to have read and pay close attention to this chart highlighted in yellow on page 19 of the SITES v2 Rating System to get it right:
A) EPA level I ecoregion B) EPA level II ecoregion C) EPA level III ecoregion D) EPA level IV ecoregion
• Know what organizations created SITES. These 3 organizations are listed at the beginning and end of the SITES v2 Rating System.
• Know how many points you need to earn for the different certification levels as well as how the rating system works in general (ie prerequisites vs credits, etc.).
• You don’t have to memorize how many points each credit is worth, but you should be familiar with the SITES v2 Scorecard and how to earn all of the prerequisites and credits.
• Be familiar with all the acronyms you come across.
• Utilize our SITES AP Glossary because it’s free and helpful.
• Simply memorize as much of the SITES v2 Rating System as you can.
• Last but not least, be sure to utilize our SITES AP practice test questions. Don’t tell anyone, but about 50 of the 200 questions we made are nearly identical to ones you might actually see on your exam (just with the numbers switched out).
STEP 5 – PASS YOUR EXAM
If you follow the tips above, put in enough studying, and go in with confidence, you’ll pass. Best of luck! This is a rare and valuable credential that you should feel great about earning because it will help you and future generations. Our current development processes will surely benefit from the expertise you gain from studying for this SITES AP exam; so, we tip our caps to you for becoming a SITES AP!
STEP 6 – CELEBRATE
After you pass be sure to market yourself as a SITES Accredited Professional. You can use the title in your signature line, and you can use the credential logo and marks in marketing collateral for yourself and your company. The GBCI also provides you with a Press Release Template that you can use as well as a pretty certificate and the official marketing information and rights.
STEP 7 – MAINTAIN YOUR CREDENTIAL
After you earn the SITES AP designation, don’t forget to maintain with by earning 30 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years and paying the $85 credential maintenance fee. In case you didn’t know, when that time comes we can also help you easily earn these hours with CE video courses. The CMP Guide has more info about how to maintain your SITES AP credential after you earn it.
If you need further assistance, tips, or even just encouragement please let us know. You can email [email protected] or give us a call at 888.414.9998
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR BECOMING A SITES AP
Sign up for the exam and other helpful resources from the Sustainable SITES Initiative: www.sustainablesites.org/sites-ap
Tips from the source (the Sustainable SITES Initiative): www.sustainablesites.org/tips-preparing-take-sites-ap-exam
Introductory videos about the Sustainable SITES Initiative (which double as SITES AP Continuing Education after you earn the credential): https://www.usgbc.org/education/sessions/exploring-sites-rating-system-10691837#
SITES AP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): www.sustainablesites.org/faqs
USGBC’s 4-week SITES AP Study Plan: www.usgbc.org/education/sessions/sites-ap-exam-four-week-study-plan-11293178
FREE GBES SITES AP Resources: www.gbes.com/faq/free-sites-ap-resources/